My name is Lizzy, I am a bisexual cis woman and am in the fourth seat of my training contract assisting our Employment Team.
When my colleague approached me about writing an article about my experience as a LGBTQ+ Trainee Solicitor, I refused.
Personally I do not consider my sexuality as a barrier or problem that I’ve faced in entering the legal profession, particularly as I have been in a long term relationship with a man since before I interviewed for the training contract at SA Law.
At my firm, no-one has ever asked or questioned my sexuality. However, after consulting with my colleagues and friends from a range of backgrounds, race, gender, sexual orientation and age I have realised how lucky I am to have had this experience. In fact when I asked the opinion of our employment partner on writing this, she was happy to give up her personal time on a Saturday to discuss my thoughts and concerns on the topic. At SA Law, what’s important is how much enthusiasm you put into your work, what your sense of humour is and how many sweet treats you bring to the office.
Although I cannot speak for everyone within the LGBTQ+ community, personally I do not think that being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is generally a barrier to entering or succeeding within the legal profession. Most lawyers believe in the basic principles of justice and equity. However, it is a topic that I do not think was or is discussed enough. When I was studying law, there weren’t any events that promoted the LGBTQ+ community within the legal profession, and I can’t remember meeting anyone whilst I was studying or trying to enter the profession that I could look up to as a bisexual woman. Although silence on the topic is often seen as the best course of action to avoid potentially falling foul of the correct language or ethos, silence can also be complacent.
For those who wish to enter the legal profession, or are beginning their careers in law, being a member of the LGBTQ+ community should not hold you back. There is a LGBTQ+ community within the legal profession which is growing rapidly. There are now events that you can go to across the country whether you are part of the community or an ally. Lots of firms are now actively promoting the LGBTQ+ communities within their firm, and if your firm or company isn’t, it doesn’t stop you from setting up your own community. Although the legal profession isn’t perfect, you are generally assessed on how skilled you are.
There are still those who are ignorant on the topic, for example I have had comments during vacation schemes such as “are you ticking the bisexual box just to meet a diversity quota?”, but this is changing. The more people who come out and promote themselves as a part or an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, the more resources there are to educate individuals and firms.
I would advise anyone applying for a training contract or entering the legal profession whether they are a member or an ally of the LGBTQ+ community to go to every networking event possible, go to every extra seminar or webinar that you can and look at every opportunity with enthusiasm of what you can learn. The most important thing, however, is to ensure that you have a support network around you, both in friends and colleagues. I have been lucky enough to work at a supportive law firm, where I have worked for a female partner at every step of my training contract, but ensuring that you have that support network will help you get through the more challenging times whilst you are studying or training.
I can only speak of my own experiences, and I appreciate that not everyone has had the same experience that I have. If you have any concerns about what you've experienced in the legal profession you can contact LawCare, who provide a free helpline service, available at https://www.lawcare.org.uk/ or contact the LGBT+ Lawyers Division at firstname.lastname@example.org.